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The Origins of the Humble Tea Leaf

Posted on May 13, 2022 by Christopher Armstrong

Based on mythological fables, there are lots of stories of the origin of tea. The first one comes from over 4500 years back. The 2nd Chinese Emperor Chen Sung(circa 2737-2697 BC) was sitting under a tree while his servant was boiling some water. A leaf from the tree above fell into the boiling water and Chen Sung attempted the brew and enjoyed it. The tree was a tea tree, naturally.

Another fabled source of tea comes from Bodhidharma, the traditional founder of the modern school of Buddhism. The Japanese claim he brought tea from India to China. The Indian legend proclaims that after 5 years of a 7 year sleepless meditation practice on the Lord Buddha, BoddhiDharma started to feel sleepy. He immediately plucked a few leaves from a nearby bush and chewed them which consequently kept him awake. The bush was a crazy bush tree. Another story along these lines has him plucking his eyebrows off when they began drooping and he threw them on the floor. It's reputed that two tea trees sprang up that had the ability to keep him alert and awake.

Whatever the truth is, the leaves of the tea tree were likely used as food in the earliest days by the indigenous inhabitants of Southern China. A chinese text of 50 BC cites tea being prepared by servants. Historians and scholars have tea being cultivated in Szechuan around the 3rd Century AD. There are lots of authentic references to tea in the Chinese dictionary circa 350 AD.

From the 8th Century the Chinese writer Lu Yu wrote the first book on tea, the"Ch'a Ching". This publication summarised all of the gathered information to date about tea growing and preparation. You will find many illustrations of tea making utensils. This book succeeded in providing a significant impetus to the drinking of tea from the upper classes. Some say that this book inspired the Buddhist priests to create the Japanese tea ceremony.

<strong>Early Processing of tea. </strong>

From the 4th Century the new green tea leaves were chosen, squeezed into cakes and then roasted to a red color. These cakes were crumbled into the water and boiled, meanwhile including ginger, onion, and orange peel. This tea was thought of as a great remedy for stomach troubles, bad eyesight and a number of other ailments, but must have been a really bitter brew indeed.

Around about the 8th Century the bricks of tea were now boiled with just a small bit of salt. From the Tang Dynasty, this tea recipe was the national drink of the ruling classes. Tea was beginning to be exported to Tibet, Turkey, India, and Russia due to its easy transportability.

The first mention of tea out China and Japan was by the Arabs in 850 AD. Some state that they introduced it into Europe throught the port of Venice. The Portuguese paved the way for the entrance of tea to Europe also due to their exploration of the sea passages to China as early as the 16th Century. Jesuit priests coming back from the East brought back their tea drinking customs back to Portugal. The Dutch retailers got in on the action also. In 1610, regular shipments of tea to ports in France and Holland were launched. From the late 17th Century, the English East India Company entered the trade.

<strong>Beginnings of those titles for tea. </strong>

From the 4th Century in China, the Chinese word 'u was often utilized to refer to shrubs besides tea. The contemporary term for tea stems from ancient chinese dialect words like Tchai, Cha and Tay. These words were used to pertain to both the beverage and the leaf. Tea is Called Cha or Chai in India to this day. In japan, the term Cha is used to describe both tea and a hot broth.

<strong>Early Advantages of Tea. </strong>

From the earliest times tea was recognised and appreciated because it's a healthy refreshing drink. Made from the dried leaves of the camellia sinensis plant, tea is thought to possess antioxidant properties, may fight the flu virus, also boosts the immune system.